2011 Japanese Earthquake & Tsunami

Bella R Wilson

What Happened?

On the 11th of March 2011 at 4:46 pm (Adelaide time), the Tōhoku earthquake and consequent tsunami hit Japan. The level seven meltdowns of three of TEPCO's (Tokyo Electric Power's) reactors in Fukushima occurred as a result. These meltdowns have caused radiation to make its way all across Japan, and slowly across the world. The death toll as of July 10 2013 is 15,833 people. The damage is an estimated 25 trillion yen (US $300 billion).

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Who Has Been Affected?

The meltdown of TEPCO's reactors has affected many countries around the world. Recently, TEPCO have come forth and admitted that 300 tons of radioactive water has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean every day. This means that Japan is not the only country that has been affected; countries bordering the pacific ocean may also experience problems. It has been estimated that almost one third more children born on the west coast of the USA will have thyroid problems. It is likely that any country that buys fish from the pacific could be affected - this is very much a global issue.

How Has it Affected the Development of Japan?

After the earthquake, 11 of Japan's 50 power stations closed down. The capacity to generate power has remained below 80% of what it was before the quake. The damage, estimated at US$300 billion, as well as many businesses near the tsunami and earthquake temporarily ceasing production, such as Sony, Nissan and Toyota, has put a major dent in the Japanese economy. Tourism has also declined, with potential tourists being turned off by the radiation levels as they are still quite high. In March and April of 2011, the demand for flights and hotels in Japan decreased by 64%, and by more than 30% in Tokyo alone, even though it was not directly affected by the earthquake or tsunami (World Travel and Tourism Council, 2011). This means that the government does not have as much money to spend on healthcare, infrastructure and education, contributing to the decline in development.

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How Can We Help?

The Japanese government has already made a huge effort to aid with cleanup and to make sure that shelters are provided for people who lost their homes. While TEPCO was put in charge of cleaning up the power plants, they have not considered it a priority so the cleanup has been slow and not particularly thorough. The government has tried to help them by spending 47 billion yen to freeze groundwater around the reactors to lessen the amount of radioactive waste leaking from the plants. However, there are ways that anyone can help with the effort, such as...

The Japan Society

In 2011, the Japan Society created the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Anyone is able to make a donation, and 100% of the money goes to other groups that directly help victims of the earthquake and tsunami. You can either donate online, or send a cheque to the organisation at the address provided on their homepage. It is possible to donate anonymously online. Thus far, 23513 donations have been made, which has come to a total of $13,660,127 donated (August 28 2013).

The Japanese Red Cross Society

The Japanese unit of the Red Cross has been working tirelessly to ensure that the citizens affected by the earthquake have food, shelter and other necessary items. As of August 31 2013, ¥59,907 million has been raised. You can donate here.


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